Game Night, Resident Evil, Video Games

Resident Evil: Genisis of Survival Horror

I often make claims about making people mad with my opinions. In the past, at least in real life, they often did. Luckily for me, you guys have been super cool and supportive! All joking aside, I really appreciate that about you guys! You’ve respected even my most controversial opinions!

Why do I say this? Because I get the feeling that this one is actually going to make some people mad. If you get upset, know that I don’t care and it won’t do anything to change my opinion. Nor should my opinion sway yours in anyway.

Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can get started. So get ready!

Because I think Resident Evil is a bad game. And yes. I am talking about the remake.

Before 2019, I wasn’t super interested in the Resident Evil franchise. I didn’t hate it, but it never did much for me. In my mind, it was just another horror franchise with a few good entries. And if you guys know me, then you know that I am really not a fan of horror.

However, things change. The RE2 Remake blew me away, quickly becoming one of my favorite games of last year! I had an absolute blast playing it from start to end, even when I was practically pissing myself! This is it, I thought! I’m finally a Resident Evil fan!

That momentum kept up for a long time. Then, just a few months ago, Capcom announced a coming remake for Resident Evil 3. In my excitement, I decided it was high time to catch up! I’ve experienced RE2! Now it was time for RE1!

I went into this game optimistic and excited. But that excitement quickly died. In its place stood the ultimate monster. The true horror that marks doom for any video game. Boredom.

Story: B Horror at its… B-est

I’m not apologizing for that.

You play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield, members of the police force STARS. After another squad mysteriously vanished in the mountains, your team has been sent in to investigate. Their mission takes them to the abandoned Spencer Mansion, but you find yourself separated from a member of your squad (Chris for Jill, Barry for Chris). Even more horrifying, the mansion has been filled with rotting zombies, oversized carnivorous animals, and killer plants! Can you fight your fears and save your friends?

Analyzing RE1 for its story is a bit tricky, since there are so many variables. There are a ton of extra scenes and different endings that are dependant on your actions in the game. Did you manage to save everyone? Did you fail to save anyone? Did you get this item at this time? If you wanted to see every route, you’d need to play through this game numerous times with each character!

Which I really don’t want to do. Playing through it once with one character was rough enough.

I stand by my B-movie comparison. This story feels like something ripped straight out of a B horror movie! The characters have very little personality, the dialogue is corny as hell (yes, I’ll acknowledge that it’s better than the original PS1 version, but it’s still not very good), and the monsters are (mostly) simple and uncreative. There are some twists and turns that make it more interesting, but the main story itself is still fairly boring and predictable. It is far from a compelling narrative.

To be fair, however, the story of the mansion itself is actually super interesting! Throughout the game, you can pick up various notes that give insights into what happened in the past and how the mansion became home to a small army of zombies and monsters. This narrative is super interesting and fun to dig into! It makes the game feel like a mystery!

My favorite is the tragic tale of Lisa Trevor. It’s an incredibly dark and tragic tale that even works its way into the gameplay! It gives a terrifying monster a sympathetic angle, which is far more than any other big monster in the series, like Mr. X or Nemesis, ever gets!

Unfortunately, that’s about all I have in terms of praise for the narrative. I didn’t hate the story, but it was still boring and forgettable. The most fun I had was poking fun at some of the bad dialogue.

I’ll never get tired of “You killed them with your own dirty hands!” It’s just the right level of stupid to be enjoyable.

Presentation: Pretty Mansion, Boring Monsters

Visually speaking, this game is split right down the middle for me. On one hand, pre-rendered environments are certainly a sight to behold! The character models are all very well detailed and the character designs, while a bit goofy (what the fuck is Jill wearing on her shoulders?), are still decent and memorable.

On the other hand, this game suffers quite a bit. The monsters are all generic and boring (except the plant creatures, the Hunters, Lisa Trevor, and Tyrant; those guys are cool and scary), only being really scary the first time around. What little music there is is forgettable, save the Save Room theme. Plus, I suffered from some pretty major frame rate issues when playing it on my high-end PC. By the time I got it running smoothly, it practically looked like the original Gamecube version!

The monsters are the biggest problem for me. They’re just so generic and boring! Zombies, big ass spiders, a giant snake, and sharks are really the best you could do? And don’t tell me it’s because of the PS1’s hardware limitations! That fucker ran Final Fantasies 7-9! That excuse does not hold up! You could afford to have more than four creative monsters!

Overall, I’d say this game looked better than it didn’t. If it ran smoothly, I’d likely give it high praise! But as it stands, it just gets a passing grade. I’m not going to think back on it fondly as a really pretty game. But I won’t think back in disgust and say that it looked awful.

But I will say that it plays awful!

Gameplay: Anyone who tells you that you need to play with tank controls is a fucking moron and I want you to punch them in the genitals for me

Don’t give me that bullshit excuse that they somehow make the game scarier. They don’t. They just make it even more insufferable to play.

Resident Evil has a simple gameplay loop. With the limited resources at your disposal, you need to avoid the numerous monsters and explore the mansion. You pick up various items to help you solve puzzles and progress further. As you explore, you’ll slowly unlock more of the mansion and the outer grounds, get new weapons, run into other survivors that you can save depending on your actions, and face progressively more dangerous monsters. You’ll need to carefully manage your inventory and resources, dropping off what you don’t need in item boxes in various save rooms. Rinse and repeat until the end of the game.

Sounds like fun, right? It’s kind of like a Metroidvania game! I should love this! Well, I don’t. For a large number of reasons. Let’s get started, shall we?

Reason one! Backtracking!

Let’s get the biggest one out of the way.

The main challenge of RE isn’t the monsters; it’s the inventory. Jill only has eight slots to fit items in and Chris has even less. Certain items, like ammo, stack to help make your life easier. But important items, like puzzle items, medicine, and weapons each take up their own slot. You’ll need to make frequent use of those item boxes if you want to keep everything!

Here’s where my problem is. Allow me to break down the loop of RE for you really quickly.

  1. Find item
  2. Put it into storage to save space
  3. Find a puzzle in another room
  4. Head back to the save room to grab the item
  5. Item doesn’t work? Go back to save room and put it away. Item works and solves puzzle? Go back to step one.

“But Jonah!” I can hear you shouting at your computer screen. “You loved the RE2 Remake and it has the same problem! You’re a hypocrite and I hope you jump onto the freeway during rush hour!” Alright fucko, let me explain why it works in RE2 Remake and not in RE1 Remake.

First of all, the inventory. In RE2, you can pick up items that increase your inventory, allowing you to carry more stuff. This makes holding on to important items much easier, thus helping remove the need to run back and forth like a headless chicken.

Second, size. The police station is much smaller than the mansion and has fewer puzzles. Plus, you open plenty of shortcuts as you progress through the game, making backtracking far easier.

Three: doors don’t take a million fucking years to open in RE2 Remake. Speaking of which!

Reason two! DOORS!!

Don’t give me the bullshit excuse that they help increase tension. We all know what they were meant to hide loading screens. This was not a feature that needed to be carried over.

This feature single-handedly transforms backtracking from a mild inconvenience to a scream-inducing nightmare! Did you go into the wrong room? Watch the unskippable door animation again! Have to run back-and-forth from one room to a save room to harvest a bunch of healing items? Hope you like those door animations!

They are long. They are tedious. They are boring. I fucking hate the door animations in this game and they made me want to quit at every fucking turn. Thank fucking God they’ve removed these.

Reason three! Horror!

You know, for the ‘greatest horror game of all time’, this game isn’t all that scary.

To be fair, this game has plenty of moments where it is terrifying! The first few encounters with zombies are scary as hell! The fixed camera angles are spectacular at creating tension, as you don’t know what horrors await around the next corner! When monsters burst through the windows and charge you down (fucking doggos), it’s super startling! When this game is scary, it is super fucking scary!

Unfortunately, that terror quickly deflates. I always say that horror is in the mystery. So how the fuck am I supposed to be scared when I’ve run through the same hallway over a dozen times with no resistance?

It doesn’t help that enemies don’t respawn. Once you kill a zombie and burn its corpse, it’s gone forever. So if you clear out a room, congratulations! That room is now safe for the rest of the game!

“But Jonah!” I hear you shouting again. “Crimsonheads-” Let me stop you there. Crimsonheads are, upon your first encounter, super scary! But then you realize something: if you have a shotgun, they are not a threat to you. At all. They can’t even get close! And once you kill a Crimsonhead, it’s gone forever!

This, again, is where RE2 Remake succeeds for me! The sense of fear never really goes away! New enemies are introduced at a slow but effective rate! Zombies continuously respawn by climbing through the windows! Mr. X is a terrifying, almost ever-present force! Even in the tail end of the game, you never feel like you’re truly safe! It’s scary from beginning to end!

The few moments that are scary are incredibly frightening! Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between. It quickly becomes boring and it stays boring until the very end.

And there is nothing worse in the entertainment industry than a boring video game.

Reason four! Combat!

The combat fucking blows. It boils down to a simple process.

  1. Stand still and shoot
  2. Move away when they get close
  3. Repeat until dead

It’s even easier if you have a shotgun or the grenade launcher.

I get that fighting shouldn’t be your first impulse. Resources are limited and you need to make them last! But when fighting is your only option, it is super boring and uninteresting!

Final reason! Puzzles!

The puzzles in this game are a mixed bag. Some of them are super hard, fun, and rewarding! These are few and far between, but they’re super satisfying! Unfortunately, the game much prefers the other method of puzzling!

Getting an item from one room and taking it to another. Grab a shield from one room to replace a nicer shield in another room. Get a fake shotgun in one room to get the real shotgun. Get a dummy key from a dog so you can get the real key. What a thrilling ‘puzzle’.

Get ready to do it a lot. Fun, right? Do you feel mentally taxed, delivery boy?!

The Good Things

Um… I guess the analog controls were good? They were responsive and didn’t make me want to kill myself! That was nice!

And… yeah, that’s it. Aside from the few positive caveats I mentioned earlier, that’s the only real positive I can give this game. I hate literally everything about this shit. The boss fights are boring and anticlimactic (oh wow, I need to shoot the final boss with the rocket launcher twice to win! HOW THRILLING!!) The map quickly becomes a boring slog to explore. Some of the puzzles are about as much fun as taking a scorpion’s stinger up the ass. This game is about as much fun as taking a scorpion’s stinger up the ass!!

Maybe some of these problems can be alleviated. Perhaps exploring could be more fun if I already knew where everything was! But I think you can see the problem with that; what’s the point in a game about exploring if you already know where everything is? Maybe combat would be more interesting on a higher difficulty! I doubt it; simply making it harder doesn’t make it more fun. It could be that the puzzles are more satisfying when you already know the solution! But then what’s the point in having a puzzle?

Follow-up question: what was the point of playing this game? Answer: to waste my life and write a review that will make people angry. You’re welcome!

Conclusion

I have a good friend who loves this game. When I told him all of my issues (in a much briefer, spoken form), he told me that it gets much more fun on repeat playthroughs. To which I asked him a simple question: why would I play a game that I hate again?

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’d recommend staying far away from Resident Evil 1. It is draining, it is uninteresting, and worst of all: it’s fucking boring! It isn’t the physical embodiment of everything that I hate about horror games (that honor goes to Outlast). But I still hate this shit!

Fuck. I originally intended to review the original RE3 for the remake. But after this? I don’t think I will. I wouldn’t want to ruin the only RE game I have childhood nostalgia for.

Sorry Nemesis. You need to wait until April.

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